Walt Disney’s Bambi, Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi, John Cassavetes Faces and Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump, are just a few of the 25 movies the Library of Congress selected for the 2011 additions to the National Film Registry of films for preservation “because of their enduring significance to American Culture.” Also selected from the list of more than 2,200 titles nominated this year were John Ford’s The Iron Horse and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs, Ramón Menéndez’s Stand and Deliver and George Pal’s War of the Worlds. An extraordinary group of personal movies of the famed dancing siblings Fayard and Harold Nicholas — Selected Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies also mad the list. Likewise a another slice of African American history, Porgy and Bess, made this year’s cut.
As usual, as you go through the list you’ll wonder why some are just now making the list, and why on earth some others made it all. And you thought awards season was complicated. Academy voters only have to contend with 265 features this year. From the announcement scheduled to be released Wednesday:
Complete List of Films:
Allures (1961) — Called the master of “cosmic cinema,” Jordan Belson excelled in creating abstract imagery with a spiritual dimension that featured dazzling displays of color, light, and ever-moving patterns and objects. Trained as a painter and profoundly influenced by the artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky, Belson collaborated in the late 1950s with electronic music composer Henry Jacobs to create elaborate sound and light shows in the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium, an experience that informed his subsequent films. “Allures,” Belson has stated, “was probably the space-iest film that had been done until then. It creates a feeling of moving into the void.” Inspired by Eastern spiritual thought, the five-minute film (which took a year and a half to make), is, Belson suggests, a “mathematically precise” work intended to express the process of becoming that the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin has named “cosmogenesis.”
Bambi (1942) — One of Walt Disney’s timeless classics (and his own personal favorite), this animated coming-of-age tale of a wide-eyed doe’s life in the forest has enchanted generations since its debut nearly 70 years ago. Filled with iconic characters and moments, the film’s beautiful images, the result of extensive nature studies by Disney’s animators, and its realistic characters that merged human and animal qualities in the time-honored tradition of folklore and fable have enhanced the movie’s resonating, emotional power. Treasured as one of film’s most heart-rending stories of parental love, “Bambi” also has come to be recognized for its eloquent message of nature conservation.
The Big Heat (1953) — One of the great post-war noir films, “The Big Heat” stars Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and Gloria Grahame. Set in a fictional American town, “The Big Heat” tells the story of a tough cop (Ford) who takes on a local crime syndicate, exposing tensions within his own corrupt police department as well as insecurities and hypocrisies of domestic life in the 1950s. Filled with atmosphere, fascinating female characters, and a jolting-yet not gratuitous-degree of violence, “The Big Heat,” through its subtly expressive technique and resistance to formulaic denouement, manages to be both stylized and brutally realistic, a signature of its director Fritz Lang.
A Computer Animated Hand (1972) Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI (computer generated image) animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film “Futureworld,” Catmull worked out concepts that have become foundational for computer graphics that followed. (more…)